Home NewsEnvironmental Global Arctic & Antarctica New research says 2017 warmest year on record for global ocean

New research says 2017 warmest year on record for global ocean

A world-class team of researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences has found that the temperature of global oceans reached a record high in 2017.

According to the CAS Institute of Atmospheric Physics, compared to 2015, the year with the second warmest ocean on record, the extra heat in the upper two kilometers of sea water across the globe in 2017 represented 700 times as much as energy as China’s electricity use in 2016.

The Atlantic and Antarctic oceans warmed up the fastest, as warming has already taken place in most of the other seas. The marine ecosystems remains in jeopardy as a result, with coral reefs and the creatures that live on them threatened, researchers at the institute said.

High ocean temperatures in recent years have occurred as greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere have also risen, reaching record highs in 2017.

The expansion caused by warming contributes to rising of sea levels, while more sea ice and ice shelves will melt and ocean currents will be affected. The heat content of the ocean is a key indicator of climate change. Due to its high specific heat capacity, sea water contains the main signals, as it stores 90 percent of the energy for global warming.

World Meteorological Organization confirms last three years warmest on record

The results support a report by the World Meteorological Organization last week that in a clear sign of continuing long-term climate change caused by increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, 2015, 2016 and 2017 have been confirmed as the three warmest years on record.

2016 still holds the global record, whilst 2017 was the warmest year without an El Niño, which can boost global annual temperatures.

A consolidated analysis by the World Meteorological Organization of five leading international datasets showed that the global average surface temperature in 2017 was approximately 1.1° Celsius above the pre-industrial era. WMO uses datasets from the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and the United Kingdom’s Met Office Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit in the United Kingdom.

Commenting on the analysis, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said:

“The long-term temperature trend is far more important than the ranking of individual years, and that trend is an upward one.“

“Seventeen of the 18 warmest years on record have all been during this century, and the degree of warming during the past three years has been exceptional. Arctic warmth has been especially pronounced and this will have profound and long-lasting repercussions on sea levels, and on weather patterns in other parts of the world.”

WMO will issue its full Statement on the State of the Climate in 2017 in March. The report will provide a comprehensive overview of temperature variability and trends, high-impact events, and long-term indicators of climate change such as increasing carbon dioxide concentrations, Arctic and Antarctic sea ice, sea level rise and ocean acidification.

“Temperatures tell only a small part of the story. The warmth in 2017 was accompanied by extreme weather in many countries around the world. The United States of America had its most expensive year ever in terms of weather and climate disasters, whilst other countries saw their development slowed or reversed by tropical cyclones, floods and drought.” Talaas continued.

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